How to Overcome BJJ Shoulder Pain

BJJ Prehab

BJJ Prehab

BJJ shoulder pain is a common issue, especially for those who train regularly. There are many different causes of shoulder pain in BJJ, but fortunately, there are also some relatively easy steps you can take to prevent and relieve it. In this blog post, I’ll discuss what causes BJJ shoulder pain, how to prevent it, and what to do if you already have it. I’ll also share 3 exercises from our BJJ Prehab program that can help relieve shoulder pain quickly and effectively.

bjj shoulder pain

How to Overcome BJJ Shoulder Pain

Before talking about how to overcome BJJ shoulder pain, it’s important to know what leads to  BJJ should issues and what you can do to rehab an existing injury before we talk about how to an injury. Let’s dive in…

What causes BJJ shoulder pain?

The repetitive nature of BJJ and the constant pressure on the shoulder joints can lead to bursitis, tendonitis, impingement syndrome, rotator cuff injuries and other conditions. Poor posture while training or technique errors can also increase one’s risk for developing BJJ shoulder pain.

How can I prevent BJJ shoulder pain?

One of the best ways to prevent developing a BJJ shoulder issue is to warm up properly before training. Warming up helps improve range of motion and increases blood flow, which can reduce your risk for injury. It’s also important to make sure you’re doing BJJ movements correctly as incorrect form or posture can lead to pain in the long run.

Additionally, strengthening your rotator cuff muscles through targeted exercises can help protect against BJJ shoulder injuries.

What to do if you already have BJJ shoulder pain?

If you already have shoulder pain, there are some steps you can take to manage it. First and foremost, rest is the best way to help your body heal. You should also apply ice or heat to the affected area and take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications if needed.

Cautiously return to the mat and see if the problem persists — this will help you understand whether the pain you experienced is the results of a event (ie, you tweaked something) or a more pervasive underlying problem (ie, you have a weak/vulnerable joint that is at risk every time you are on the mat).

If the pain persists, consult a physical therapist (ideally one who specializes in BJJ and understands the mechanics of the sport) for exercises that can help strengthen the muscles of the shoulder.

3 exercises to help relieve shoulder pain

Regardless of the cause of your shoulder pain, there are exercises you can do to improve your shoulder strength, flexibility, and mobility, which will in turn alleviate your pain.

Here are three of our favorite exercises from the BJJ Prehab program that can help relieve shoulder pain:

Eccentric Shoulder External Rotation: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your arms by your side, bent 90 degrees at the elbow; rotate one arm outward away from the body until it reaches its furthest point; pause for a few seconds before rotating it back inward towards your torso. Repeat this movement 10 times on each side.

YTWL: Start by lying face down on a flat surface like a bench or table with your arms outstretched above you. Slowly lift your arms up and back, bending slightly at the elbow so that you form a “Y” shape with your body; hold for a few seconds before bringing it back down again. Repeat 10 times. Next, extend both arms outward so you make a “T” with your body and arms. Follow the same process for 10 reps. Then, bring your arms in towards each other so that you form a “W” shape with your body and arms. Repeat 10 times, then finally do the same for a “L” shape.

Wall Slides: Stand with your back against a wall and feet shoulder-width apart. Your heels, glutes and upper back should all be touching the wall. Raise your arms so that your elbows are level your with shoulders, and your hands are above your elbows (your arms bent 90-degrees at the elbow), slide your hands and elbows slowly up the wall, without losing contact with the wall. Each rep should take 5 seconds. Do 10 reps.

By consistently doing these exercises, you can help reduce shoulder pain and prevent future BJJ injuries. For more tips on how to best strengthen your body so that you can stay healthy and roll longer, check out the full BJJ Prehab program.


BJJ shoulder pain is a common issue that plagues many jiu jitsu athletes. It’s important to understand the causes of BJJ shoulder pain and how to prevent it so you can keep training hard and stay injury free. If you are struggling with shoulder pain, another common BJJ injury, or just want to learn how to better prevent future injuries, be sure to check out the full BJJ Prehab program for a personalized fitness program to help you stay healthy and roll longer.